Grass and lawn substitutes

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John J

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2011, 05:11:02 AM »
Can I respond to the question about growing Australian plants? I know it was aimed at Mike but I also garden in Cyprus, although, I believe, in different conditions to Mike. He describes his as sloping and his soil as marl whilst my 'field' is flat and with reasonably fertile soil. Personally, I find Westringia fruticosa, Lagunaria patersonii and Eremophilla maculata extremely useful and needing virtually no summer water once established.
Grevilleas can sometimes be found here too. As I look out of my window right now my neighbour's G robusta dominates the front of their house.
On a slightly different note, when the British came here in the late 1800s they planted several varieties of Ecalypts and Acacias. They did this especially in marshy areas in order to try to drain them and reduce the incidence of malaria. However, over the years they have become a pest, especially the Acacias, and the Forestry Dept have the task of clearing large areas in an attempt to allow the regrowth of native species. 
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

julie

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2011, 06:33:09 AM »
John, even here in the Adelaide Hills there are Acacias which are indigenous to other parts of Australia, but have become weed pests here.  The Acacia generally is quite short lived and is known as a colonising species - their seeds being one of the first to germinate after a fire.  The seeds may have lain dormant in the soil for years.  I am fortunate living next to many acres of natural bush, some of which is very good quality with little weed presence.  I get to enjoy the different indigenous Acacias in flower for some months.  At present yellow is the flower colour of the month, there must be a pollinator around which loves yellow.  Different shades of yellow profusely flowering throughout the hills creating a beautiful display.  I have taken some photos which I will endeavour to load soon.
Member MGS. Garden Designer, Plantaholic!! Live and Garden in the Adelaide Hills area and Adelaide area of South Australia.  Surprisingly different climatic conditions, therefore allowing the cultivation of a range of plants which is most enjoyable.

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MikeHardman

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2011, 07:07:14 AM »
Julie - lovely portrayal.
John - thanks for tips; I have Westringia fruticosa on my to-get list but the other two are new to me.
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

julie

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2011, 07:25:00 AM »
John & Mike - Westringia fruticosa is a fabulous plant, wonderful for trimming, in fact I think superior to the Buxus.  There are a number of Westringia now available here some with a slight variegated leaf giving a silver overall appearance.  The Lagunaria patersonii unfortunately wouldn't thrive at my hills home however may be tempted to give it a try in Adelaide, the flower reminds me of the Crowea sp.  The Eremophila maculata is lovely.  There are many Eremophila, quite a range of colour and form, worth a try.
Member MGS. Garden Designer, Plantaholic!! Live and Garden in the Adelaide Hills area and Adelaide area of South Australia.  Surprisingly different climatic conditions, therefore allowing the cultivation of a range of plants which is most enjoyable.

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John J

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2011, 10:56:45 AM »
Eremophila certainly lives up to its name which roughly translates as Desert Lover. It seems to thrive in the poorest of soils as long as the drainage is good.
Care needs to be taken in the siting of Lagunaria. I believe in parts of Australia it is known as Cow Itch Tree or Itchy Bomb Tree? This is due to the mass of tiny barbed hairs that are produced in the seed pods. I haven't experienced it but I'm told that they can be extremely irritant, if not downright painful. Certainly not something you'd want to brush against next to a path.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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Alisdair

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2011, 03:23:50 PM »
Rosie Peddle, leading light of the Portugal branch of the MGS, suggests that a series of articles by her and other MGS members about doing without lawns, published in Algarve Resident, are relevant. To read these interesting articles, click on each of them below:
To lawn or not to lawn
Life after grass
Another view on life after grass
Interview with two MGS members who decided against a lawn.
Thanks, Rosie!
« Last Edit: August 30, 2011, 03:34:35 PM by Alisdair »
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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MikeHardman

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2011, 08:30:41 PM »
Top dressing the info on this 'Grass' topic...

Dichondra repens (which has been mentioned briefly)

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an excellent lush looking candidate for shady and semi shady lawns.  It is best grown from seed in early Spring, the seedlings will establish quickly with a good water in the first year.  I seed into patches of my existing lawn.  Once the plant has established it will spread and can be cut up in squares to establish the plant in other areas.  D. repens needs a little water to look at its best, once a week or so.
(http://www.themediterraneangardener.co.uk/background/sources-of-water/lawns/)
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warm-season lawn substitute that remains green for long periods and reproduces strongly. Dichondra repens forms short, dense cover and is important in conservation of water and soil. It retains its green color during winter to -8 ℃ with only slight leaf browning and is resistant to diseases and heavy metals contamination
(http://www.plant-ecology.com/EN/abstract/abstract9708.shtml)

Does anybody have experience of Dichondra repens?
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

David Bracey

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2011, 08:51:25 PM »
Mike ask the Californians ; it is extremely popular there. It needs lots and lots of water and would not qualify for waterwise gardening.
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

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John

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #23 on: November 03, 2011, 12:07:10 AM »
I would just like to say how impressed I was with Myoporum too. I saw it used as a ground cover in Tortosa, Catalonia and the deep green all year round effect requires very little watering and stays very low and form a distance lawn like.
John
Horticulturist, photographer, author, garden designer and plant breeder; MGS member and RHS committee member. I garden at home in SW London and also at work in South London.

ezeiza

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2011, 12:41:48 AM »
This forum never stops amazing me. Lovely Phyla nodiflora is a native in this partof the world. Our normal rainfall is 900-1300 mm. so this is a very versatile plant.

Instead of Dichondra repens,I would sugggest Dichondra sericea for your dry climates.

David Bracey

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2011, 05:26:56 PM »
Lippia nodiflora is a great ground cover with small white flowers, long shoots which peg very easily and requires little to no watering.  It does attract the bees however.

Olivier Filippi will discuss alternative ground covers to lawns in Montpellier on the 21st January.  MGS members are invited.

« Last Edit: November 25, 2011, 08:30:10 AM by Alisdair »
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

ezeiza

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #26 on: November 22, 2011, 08:10:12 PM »
Can anyone provide a photo or link to the groundcover Lippia nodiflora, mentioned here. Lippias from this part of the world are all lanky habit shrubs.

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JTh

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #27 on: November 22, 2011, 09:00:48 PM »
I believe it is a synonym for Phyla nodiflora, there are many links on the internet, including much better photos than the one I took last month when I visited Brian. We went to a fantastic nursery specializing in mediterranean plants, everything well kept and properly labelled with Latin names. The nursery is called Cultidelta, in Amposta (Tarragona). The photo shows some pots with this plant, which  were sold in trays with 40 pots. They have a website where you can see the address etc., but few of the links are working: http://www.cultidelta.com/.
Retired veterinary surgeon by training with a PhD in parasitology,  but worked as a virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS  since 2004. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.

David Bracey

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MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

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John J

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Re: Grass and lawn substitutes
« Reply #29 on: November 23, 2011, 05:39:33 AM »
I took this photo of what is labelled as Phyla filiformis a few years ago in the gardens of the Forestry Department Visitor Centre in Athalassa Park, Nicosia. It's Greek name refers to its attraction for bees.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)